Tuesday 20 December 2011


I "made" a candle - remnants of wax, the tin and wick holder from an old burnt-out candle, wick made of cotton scrap. Quite effective.

Sunday 18 December 2011

The Baltics 2011: Tallinn, part 3 - Along the city walls

Back to Tallinn! It's been too long.

One last parting look at the hospitable courtyard from the last post...

... and on we go.

Another of the museums I did not have time for - the City Museum.

The street seemed a bit too turist-y, so I went to the other side of the old city walls, through a gate between the church and the red brick house.

Yes, much better already.

Saku (pronounced Sakku) is apparently a small town near Tallinn. And a beer brand, which father later pronounced good.

The sign on this house says "Riigi muinsuskaitseamet". From what I can gather online with my limited knowledge of Estonian, it's some institution of Ministry of Culture, or some such. ("Riigi" makes it sound like something to do with Riga, but it's in fact the genitive form of "riik", which means "state.")

"Bread - restaurant and garden". Would you name your restaurant "Bread"? Apparently, in Estonia you can.

This tower is called Paks Margareta - "Thick/Fat Margareth".

Next to it is a memorial to the ship Estonia, which sank in 1994.

The Estonian Centre for Children's Books.

This was the only photo I could get of this beautiful beautiful door...

This is (as seen below) a Ukrainian Greek Catholic church. Situated in the most bizarre little house I've ever seen. The street was narrow and I could not get a shot of the whole thing, but I think this suffices to give you an idea.

Next: a flower festival!

Sunday 27 November 2011

Sneak peek 2

So... This is a post to join Debi's Sew Grateful Challenge. It does not feature a finished item, only a nearly finished item. But it does not seem to matter.

I finally got back to the project from this post. I thought I'd finish it this weekend; I still haven't managed, because I took long naps both yesterday and today afternoon... But it's close now.

The gingham-ish print I got from my friend's mother (the same I got the pale green 1970 dress, and several other things and fabrics I haven't written about yet from). The bias binding is the infamous Very Pink Poplin of Doom, also a gift. I think it spices up the blue and white fabric nicely. Or maybe it makes it unbearably saccharine; that's up for debate, but I, as the perpetrator of that combination, prefer the first option. :-)

So, what is this? It is, as I suggested in the first Sneak peek post, a rip off of Colette Patterns - namely their Crepe dress, using this free pattern by Lekala (and modifying it quite heavily). But it's meant to be an apron. Apron dress. Dress apron.
So I made it a higher neckline, for better coverage (that was my intent in making an apron dress in the first place - higher coverage). There was not nearly enough of the fabric for a fuller skirt, too. So it's not very close to Crepe after all, but I like it like this, with the higher neckline. (The sleeves are nowhere near perfect, but seeing as it is only an apron, I won't bother.) The waist ties will also be made of the Very Pink Poplin.

I have the idea of using this pattern (modified yet again) to make a Little Black Dress (or perhaps a bigger black dress?), inspired by the McCall's pattern featured in the Grace Kelly book (which, as you may recall, I won in a giveaway). Square neckline in the front, but wrap in the back like this one, short sleeves, full skirt and waist ties. For a January event, where I might and might not go, to go with another hat that Lisa sent me in addition to the Madeline hat (because that event is about the only occasion I can come up with for using that hat, but the hat would be fabulous for that occasion).
The problem is, I don't have suitable fabric for it, and it would eat up quite a lot of fabric... and seeing how long it took me to get this far with this project...
But, seriously, if I'm ever going to sew a LBD, this is the perfect one. So I think I'm going to try, to see if I can. Because if I manage, it would also be my Historical Costume Inspiration Festival entry.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Regency shoes by American Duchess

American Duchess did it again: this time, you can pre-order these Regency-style shoes, called Pemberley.
She also noted on her blog that she made sure these would fit with Regency-inspired 1950s-1960s styles. I think they do. I think they'd look lovely with my pale green 1970 dress, even though it's not Regency inspired. And just like before, I don't have the money to order them now.

They also fit with my blog design... I changed it around a bit. I was getting tired of the way my header background did not fit into the frame (in spite of it being exactly the size Blogger told me to use.) Also, I think it's easier to navigate now that the posts are less narrow. Hopefully.

Friday 25 November 2011

On my mind: Thanks, still

I think from now on, I'll try to make blog posts on Fridays, posts to go both with Rhonda Jean's On My Mind photo feature and Kellie's Give Thanks Blog Party. I probably won't manage every time, but it's a good way to keep in touch with two online communities I like being part of, at least a bit of a a part of.

And it's good to remind myself to be grateful, right?


1. List three (little) things you wouldn't want to live withoutPaper. Paper is a wonderful medium, and few things surpass the lovely smell of new books, or the lovely smell of old books. Few things smell lovely both new and old.
My good old suede shoes. Well, four years old now; I hope they’ll last for many more. They’re the best walking shoes I’ve ever had, I think. They’re made of leather suede, so they’re soft and breathe. They’re just the right shape for my feet – my feet are narrow, but quite high in the arch, so many shoes don’t quite suit them, but these do. And after four years of walking in them, they’re practically the exact shape of my feet, so...
Milk. I love milk, and dairy products. Give me yoghurt or cheese anytime. Cream. Sour cream. Quark. Kárums! Blueberry milkshake!

2. Name something you had to do without recentlyThe light bulb at the toilet when at school. The filament broke; and it’s too high for me to change myself. (Even with a ladder. I might be able to reach up there, but I’m afraid that I’d fall, so I stopped trying.)

3. What are you most thankful for that you consider a luxury?Probably also my computer. Although I keep forgetting to be thankful for it.

4. Name an item you use the most throughout your dayProbably my hands (not just thumb). I do almost everything with my hands, after all.

5. What would life be like without the item listed in #4?Very difficult.

6. Name something that you use in the kitchen that you are thankful forThe kettle. Everything would take SO much longer without it.

7. What is (one of ) the best earthly gift(s) you ever received?If my Bible counts as an earthly gift, then definitely my Bible. It was a gift from my congregation at the occasion of my baptism; and it’s one of the few earthly possessions of mine that I really, really would not want to live without. Even though I often use it much less than I wish I would.

8. Name a completely random thing you are thankful forDouble windows. There are trams under my windows when at school, you know. And they’re useful in winter, too.

9. How often do you think about the item listed in #8?Not every day. But quite often; especially when at a time one window was broken and I could hear the trams much more than I wanted to at nights.

10. Name something you recently acquired, that you have wanted for a long timeThe Madeline hat. Well, not that one hat in particular; but I’ve wanted a felt hat, a hat I could wear in winter, for some time now, and this one's so perfect.

11. Would you rather have #4, or #7?Wow, that’s tough! Probably my Bible; because my life without hands would be made easier with my Bible (or what it stands for), but my life without Bible would not be helped much by having both my hands. (OK, I know this is easier said than done. But I believe it to be so all the same.)

12. Name one of your favourite thingsBlueberry.
(You said one. :-)

13. Look around the room you are in, and name three things you enjoy in itThe blue mug I drink milk and cocoa and milk-coffee from.
My aqua stockings (hehe).
My old teddy, made by my aunt.

And some more, because three is not enough:
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.
Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz
My calendars by the Lithuanian artist Egle Lipeikaite.
My two photos by the Finnish photographer Anssi Mellblom (and the memory of the wonderful couple of people who gave them to me)
Reproduction of Claude Monet’s Cliffs at Belle-Ille
The heater. You have to enjoy the heater.

14. List three tools you use in your daily work that you are thankful forPencil.
My camera, which doubles as a flash disc.
Online wordbooks.

15. Name something that you sometimes wish you didn't have in your life, but that you would miss dreadfully if it were taken awayKaksi the Cat’s tendency to extract her claws when she cuddles with us.

16. Post a picture (or ten) of something you are thankful for!

Family. As complicated as things sometimes get, I'd never want a different one.
That's a clay relief I made back when I attended art courses in my hometown. It's based off a picture of various kinds of owls in a children's encyclopedia; there were five of them, and when I was a child, I always thought it was my own family of five. So this family of various owls still symbolises my family to me.

My country.

My wonderful, beautiful, severe, gentle and completely unique Bisha. She's gone now; has been for quite some time already. She just disappeared, and did not appear again. I did not want to write about it, because I still had that little hope that she would reappear, and because I did not know what to write. But she's gone now, and I'm very grateful for the chance of having her in my life.
She was my little personal fuzzy ball of Holy Spirit. I'm quoting Erazim Kohák here; it's probably very symbolic and probably very literal and I don't really know. I just know she was a blessing to me.

There's much more; but I think I'll leave that for other posts.

Thursday 24 November 2011


I think we Czechs need to celebrate Thanksgiving. I don't mean the turkey part; we can come up with excuses to stuff ourselves easily and besides, I'm not particularly fond of turkey. I mean the thanksgiving part. We could do with a holiday that makes us think of all our reasons for gratitude, because we tend to overlook them, even though we have many. But then, that might be a universal human problem.

Right now, it's thank you, Lisa, for sending me your Madeline hat. Thank you, because you did not have to send it overseas, and thank you, because it's so perfect. It's not just a schoolgirl hat - though I did wear it to school today - it's a bit of 70s (and you did tell me I look good in 70s things) and a bit of mid-19th century (so it could go with my 1848 outfit, one day), and it's a mix of what the men in Leone's films are wearing and the hat Jill is wearing (well... sort of), and perhaps it would fit into other eras as well, and all in all it's very much ME.

Only I have trouble photographing myself in it.

As I said, I wore it to school today. So it sat on the desk next to me on the lesson of Polish literature, and as we listened to two Kochanowski/Gomolka Psalms, and I got a very Advent-like feeling (Advent will be here soon, after all), I thought it was a very fitting first outing for a gift from a part-Polish lady.

Monday 21 November 2011

Oona, I hope you're happy

It does not match, but it's very pleasant for lounging around the house.
And it could be worse. I could be wearing the aqua stockings. Actually, I'm contemplating it now.

(Most of the items have been seen around here already. The skirt I got from one of my sisters last Christmas.)

Saturday 19 November 2011

Kites and birds

I've entered my first Spoonflower contest with this fabric.
I don't think I have much chance of winning, because there are far more beautiful kites designs to be found on Spoonflower. But one never knows. I wanted to try my hand at it.
I made the design in the fantastic free vector program Inkscape, and the finishing touches (lots of them, like moving the kites around, flipping half of the birds horizontally and adding quite a lot of the birds) in the bitmap file.
The fabric is purely virtual right now, not for sale. One day it might be, but I don't think it's a very near future.

Monday 14 November 2011

As promised, the sauerkraut soup with sour cream (UPDATED Sept 2019)

This is my absolute favourite soup. It sometimes involves sausage, but is equally good without it, and in fact lesser carnivores of the family prefer it without, so I only add it when I'm home alone...

This "recipe" was originally posted back in 2011, without any introduction. I've learned a bit more about cooking since, and have also learned a bit more about this soup. It always puzzled me that my family's "zelňačka" was so very different from other Czechs' idea of zelňačka which involves fried onion base and paprika and all sorts of unnecessary and harder-to-digest complications like that. It turns out its lineage in my family goes back to a co-worker of my Wonderful Crafty Grandma (TM)'s, and its trace gets lost there. But strangely enough, its lineage also can be traced on the other side of the family, i.e., to Moravian Wallachia and its kyselica, sauerkraut-and-potatoes-and-cream soup (which I always take care to get somewhere when I visit the region, because when I first visited it was the first time I felt like someone else understood my love of this soup!). These days, kyselica is a richer one, always involving sausage or bacon, sometimes even more vegetables, maybe thickened with roux; but originally, it was very simple peasant food and the word "kyselica" actually referred to the sour liquid from sauerkraut alone! So it's entirely possible that the originator of this recipe on my mom's and grandma's side originally came from Wallachia...

Wallachians have a saying "brambory a zelé - živobytí celé", "potatoes and cabbage - the whole livelihood". It's almost correct here.
(Note that "zelé" is a dialectism; the "correct" Czech form is "zelí".)

(September 28, 2019)

You will definitely need:
- sauerkraut
- potatoes
- sour cream (or very thick, creamy yoghurt; don't bother with the thinner kinds)
- salt
- water

You may also want to use:
- caraway seeds or other spice to your preference (I like my food mild, so I prefer caraway) ETA '19: These days, I also add about two or three bay leaves and about three allspice balls per big pot, to be removed before serving. (I've also found out I actually don't mind spicier food every now and then - but the sourness of this soup works well with milder spices.)
- flour
- sausage
- prunes / dried plums

I cannot give you exact amounts; it all depends on how much of the soup you want to make and how rich do you like your soups (ETA '19: Because I tend to use this soup instead of a main course, I like it fairly full of sauerkraut and potatoes - 0,5 kg of sauerkraut and, let's say, 4 mid-sized potatoes for a c. 5 litre pot). I'd recommend using at least a cup of the sour cream in either case, though.
You start by cubing your potatoes and then cooking them and the sauerkraut (both salted) separately in two pots. (ETA '19: Add your caraway seeds to the potatoes and your bay leaves and allspice to the sauerkraut.) Then you unite them in one pot, add water to the amount you want to have, add the sour cream and cook a bit more (ETA '19: I tend to cook it all together for about 15 minutes, for the tastes to blend). And that's it. It tastes better after a day or two when the tastes "settle", but you can eat it fresh from the stove as well.

- You can mix a tablespoon of flour into the sour cream for more thickness - I'd recommend doing this if you use yoghurt, with thick sour cream it's not necessary.
- Add cubed sausage.
- Add cubed prunes as well (they expand a lot in the soup, so that's why cubed). They lose a lot of their taste themselves, but add a nice overtone to the whole soup.

A variant with a not very spicy sausage and prunes. The prunes make it darker than the plain variant.

A variant with spicy Hungarian sausage and prunes. Paprika!

And, really, that's it. I like it when the sauerkraut is very sour, but that's my own personal preference. The fun thing is, it's so versatile, depending on the type of sausage and/or spice you use; while preparing for this belated post, I ate sauerkraut soup for about three weeks in a row, and did not get bored with it, because I used different kinds of everything.

Sunday 13 November 2011

One pair in, one pair out + My first "vintage" dress

While on the subject of shoes, and thrifting, and that sort of thing...

I've been to another of my cousin's-once-removed clothes exchanges. I got rid of some old clothes (and forgot some others at home), and got myself a new pair of white heeled sandals.

To replace this pair:

I loved these when they were new, and they went well with the 1970 dress I graduated from Grammar school in:

But they're sadly uncomfortable, because the straps are elastic and don't hold very well, and the heel is situated in the very back of the shoe, which I have discovered not to work very well with my style of walking (long, low strides, toes facing straight forward) it's simply not comfortable, I've heard complains from others, too. The new shoes also have elastic straps, but they're more strategically situated, and the heel's definitely much better situated. So the old pair went into hiding in a wardrobe and in spring it will be brought to the next clothes exchange. That's what's so great about these events; somebody else will get to use what does not suit me, and if it's left behind, it goes to charity.

The dress: It used to be my best friend's mother's dancing lessons dress, made from a fabric they got from their American great-aunt (or was it their aunt and my friend's great-aunt?). It does not fit me perfectly, but for a while it was one of the best dresses I had (and, come to think of it, still is). I graduated from Grammar school in it, and was inaugurated into university in it, and wore it to a ball. There were some fabric scraps, too, that I made into my first headband ever, which started it all (I now wear headbands/headscarves almost all the time).
When I arrived to the Grammar school graduation exam, one of my classmates told me what a nice "retro" dress I had. I did not tell her it was the real thing.

This sort of wrap-up post makes me feel less sorry about getting rid of that old pair of shoes. I should do it more often; perhaps I'd be able to get rid of more things I'm not using anymore.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Adventures in colour coordinating

Huh, I haven't posted in a long time - again! School, and sloooow internet when at school, and flu and not much blog-worthy creating...

I went to a thrift store I hadn't been to yet, hoping to find winter boots. Of course, thrifting being what it is, I did not find winter boots I liked in my size. I found these beautiful shoes instead (and I see now that the photo isn't the best there could be, because you cannot see that they have a slight wedge of about an inch and that there's a piping of the greenish yellow fabric running along the wedge), and a silk shawl to match.

So I didn't find winter boots, but this is very good.

I also, finally, finished the aqua stockings.

Well, not exactly finished, because there are still some finishing touches to be done. But finished knitting.
Each stocking has a different toe. That's what comes from figuring things out as you go. I like the look of the left one (the newer one) more.

I love how bright and cheerful this aqua yarn is. Maybe too bright for me, but I don't care. Winter requires bright things. I'm going to make myself a hat as well, and if there's still any yarn left, mittens or something.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

But the raw fish are so good!

That saying comes from a news article years ago, about some Asian country or other, where eating of traditional raw fish caused some health problems, or something, and the minister responsible for the resulting regulations said the above. In my family, "raw fish" has become synonymous with something irresistibly tasty we probably should not be eating, or not as much, but we still do, because it's so irresistibly tasty.

I've just had sushi for the first time in my life.

And it's definitely raw fish. Especially the kind to the right, which was covered with sesame seeds, nom.

Those two stains are result of my clumsiness with the sticks. I used up two napkins because I got the sauce everywhere.

I still liked it.

I went with a friend from a Czech web board, who's not such a sushi novice as I am. We went to an Asian bistro that offers both sushi and Chinese food. We shared the sushi, and both had Chinese plum wine to go with it, which is raw fish, too.

When we finished there, we went to a shop that sells dried fruits, nuts and other such tasties, and I got myself 150 g of licquorice. Licquorice is raw fish, too.

In other food news, I made myself sauerkraut soup with sour cream, Hungarian sausage and prunes/dried plums. Raw fish. Jodi, you can expect a write up on the soup - it's really simple, I just need to take a photo of this spiced up variant. ;-)

There's no sewing news. School has started, and I didn't have time to sew. Hopefully I'll get back to it soon, though. And to that Baltics series.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Eyelet progress (a year later)

I'm working on Regency stays. I did not want to share the progress, because I had no idea whether the process was right or not (and did not want to baffle other beginner seamstresses with my unconventional method). Now it seems the process was right, more or less (although it's still possible that the cording will totally mess with it and it will turn out not to be right in the end). So I'll share a bit.

I'll share the eyelets I've made so far, because I've witnessed a strange phenomenon there.

A year ago, I made my first eyelet.

Not bad for a first eyelet, I thought, and then I had other things to do and the stays got stoved away and I didn't get back to them until a year later.

A year later, I made another eyelet.

Which looked like this:

So I went on and made two others. Which looked like this:

I wonder what happened in that year to account for picture-perfect eyelets. It certainly wasn't eyelet-making.